Imagine owning your own drone. Yes, it’s possible. I’m not talking about those big drones used by the U.S. military. Regular consumers who have an interest in aerial photography, landscaping, or are just hobbyists can own small drones. Budget drones, especially, do not cost a lot of money and are small enough not to require FAA permits to fly in your backyard.
There are technically two types of drones anyone can buy: do-it-yourself (DIY) drones and ready-to-fly (RTF) drones. DIY drones are not recommended to everyday consumers unless you are technically adept and know how to code. You should get your hands on a RTF drone, which requires minimal assembly and start flying in a matter of minutes.
Here is what you should know about buying a drone for personal use:
Buy a Quadcopter
There are different types of consumer drones. Most common, and the cheapest, are the quadcopters. They are so called because each has four flying motors. Quadcopters are highly recommended for beginners because they are rather stable and reliable to fly. They typically weigh less than two pounds and can be easily maneuvered even in windy conditions.
Quadcopters require minimal assembly. You don’t need a drone piloting license or any experience to begin flying. An RTF quadcopter is even suitable for gifting for kids. Learning to fly a quadcopter is great training before moving onto other drones.
Go for a Model under $300
It’s recommended to spend less than $300 on your first drone. Usually, higher costing drones require a FAA license. Drones that are cheap tend to be lightweight and easy to repair or replace as well. However, adjust your expectations. Cheap drones cannot stay airborne for more than 10 minutes. You may require multiple batteries to operate them for long periods of time in one session.
Cheap drones are great for training. Some have low-res cameras equipped for taking aerial photographs as well. For example, check out these drones that cost less than $300 and are highly suitable for training purposes.
Choose Products with Physical Remotes
There are smartphone synced consumer drones nowadays you can buy for as cheap as $50. But be aware before spending money. Make sure the drone you buy comes with a physical remote controller. Some drones have corresponding apps with the controls. Meaning, you will have to control the drone using the touchscreen on your smartphone. Sometimes the controls are not as responsive as physical ones. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to buy a drone that comes with its own controller.
Plan to Spend Money on an Aerial Photography Drone
If you want a drone to take aerial photographs, you will have to be willing to spend some money on your purchase. Good photography drones like DJI Phantom 4 Pro cost close to $1,500. Most video drones are also quadcopters. So practicing with a cheap quadcopter will help you become a better aerial photographer or a videographer.
There are plenty of places online to buy drones. You should do your research really well before settling down on a product. As mentioned above, buy a cheap drone first, and make sure you are comfortable flying it before investing in a more expensive drone.
About the Author
Eduardo Bridges used to be a software engineer. Now he runs his own business. He is also a consumer electronics researcher and regularly blogs about the best budget gadgets to buy.